This month we focus on what entrepreneurship means to our youth and what challenges they face. We also meet Enver Munshi and Ncamisile Maphumulo in our success stories.
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SME Business Bang
June 2014   |   Volume 5.5

Evolving work environment driving young entrepreneurs

Stepping out from a corporate environment into a new entrepreneurial venture can be daunting, especially for younger entrepreneurs, as by doing so, they are leaving behind a steady pay check, the social office environment, as well as the security of having a team of colleagues to seek advice and assurance from. It is equally daunting for young people to step out from the security of a university or technical college into the often lonely and uncertain world of entrepreneurship.

To counter these issues, there is a growing trend for ‘communal’ workspaces, those shared by numerous young entrepreneurs and start-up companies, as an alternative to running their business from home. According to the 2014 Coworking Forecast, the current need for coworking spaces outstrips the availability of vacant spots. Seven out of ten coworking facilitators reported that the availability of desk space in shared professional spaces cannot keep up with the demand in general.

Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners Limited says that while business ownership offers countless rewards, it can be a lonely pursuit, and the increase of coworking spaces available in South Africa is reducing the sense of isolation experienced in home offices, and increasing networking opportunities, at cost effective rates.

Success story:
Study business before you start, advises experienced entrepreneur

You would think that a businessman who had cut his teeth as a young entrepreneur in the harsh 70s when South Africa's economy was strangled by racial laws and restrictive permit systems would describe today's business world as easier.

But Enver Munshi, owner of a fast-growing vegetable canning factory and well-known brand in Tongaat on the KwaZulu-Natal’s coast, says competition and macro-economic forces make the business environment so hostile that he urges young people to study as far as they possibly can before they venture into business.

On top of that, says the 62-year-old owner of the growing Tomco canned-food brand, survival in today's vicious business world requires that young entrepreneurs will have to have at least some work experience in their chosen industry. Don't think about starting if you don't have a well-prepared business plan and finance in place, he says.

Success story:
Stranded patients inspire young entrepreneur to start own venture

The day that the health company closed down the dialysis centre where she worked as a young medical technologist in deep-rural KwaZulu-Natal, Ncamisile Maphumulo decided to start her own business one day to help the patients left stranded by the closure.

She found another job soon enough, working for various centres where people with kidney failure went for regular treatment, and became an experienced dialysis specialist in a region where kidney failure caused by hypertension was common.

But the people of Nongoma remained in her heart. Since the centre closed down because it was not properly planned and managed, the patients have had to travel for hours to Richards Bay for dialysis. Maphumulo was determined to return to the community with her own dialysis centre. Today she is closer than ever to reaching that goal, running her own dialysis centre in Ulundi...

Avoiding the pitfalls of an uncertain business world

As Youth Month comes and goes every year, the lamentations over South Africa's high youth unemployment reach a crescendo, together with calls on young people to start their own businesses. But somehow not enough is ever said about the serious survival gear needed by anyone venturing into their own business.

The business world is an uncertain place, says Byron Jeacocks, Business Partners regional general manager, who, as an experienced financier of owner-managed businesses, has seen many ventures fail. “We tend to aspire to the successful entrepreneurs, but we don't see the six who have fallen by the wayside for everyone who succeeds,” he says.

But the good news is that there are clear patterns in these failures, showing that the pitfalls are mostly predictable and can be avoided.

The most common blunder made by entrepreneurs, says Jeacocks, is a failure to use financial statements and forecasts to make business decisions. The business world is so uncertain that navigating it without a map is sure suicide. The survival map needed by every entrepreneur is a business plan, the most important parts of which are the financials and cash-flow projection. “A business plan is my map of where I want to go to in an uncertain world. Business is massively uncertain, and if you don’t have a plan of where you are going to, you’re in a lot of trouble,” says Jeacocks.
In this issue
Poll results Did the public holidays in April impact on your business?
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